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Christine Barrera Excavation of a Civilization: University of Michigan Social evolution of human groups occurs in stages which increase in complexity

. Childe defines these stages as savagery, barbarism and civilization/state, which is the most complex stage. As Vere Gordon Childe explains in “The Urban Revolution” (1950), a state is the endpoint in the evolutionary development of societies. A state can be identified and understood archeologically through the study of material remains found at a site. To archeologists, these remains are the key to understanding past civilizations, ancient social structures. Aspects that we strive to understand include administration, developed settlement hierarchy and urbanism, the widespread regulation of the way people live, control of power and use of force to glorify the state to the people, and ideological underpinnings of the state. In order to identify a state through excavation, there are ten characteristic aspects of a state which must be found in archeological evidence. Each characteristic of a civilization is reviewed and evaluated using material culture from the University of Michigan. The first characteristic of a state, according to VG Childe, is the aspect of population density within the state. A state-like society cannot exist unless a dense population can be supported and fulfill various functions within a state. The population density of University of Michigan is very apparent from the size and quantity of buildings, and the large number of rooms and seats in meeting rooms. In the center of this site, there are nearly 100 large and elaborate buildings, designed to hold over 20,000 people in group meetings at one time. These elaborate buildings were built to hold a dense, and likely growing, population. These buildings were costly to built, and could not have been built without a form of taxation from a large number of people.

Population density is also apparent through the quantity of living spaces in this site. There are approximately 15 ‘residence hall’ buildings in the center of this site. There are a large number of houses and apartment buildings surrounding the center. There is thousands of housing units that were built tightly packed together, especially as they get closer to the center of the site. A dense population requires that a certain amount of food is available for maintaining the large population. There are many food wrappers and containers found near the housing units which verifies that a large amount of people were consuming food here. In the residence halls, there are large containers of mass produced foods that were served to these citizens. For members of the population that were not housed in ‘residence halls’, there are many buildings and cooking machines, such as ovens and stoves, that were used to supply food throughout this state by food specialists. The second characteristic of a state is a specialist – someone who specializes in craft production to be traded and used by the public. Specialists existed as various groups of people at the University of Michigan who were necessary for the maintenance and functioning of the state. Workers who repaired and maintained paths like sidewalks and roads were one type of specialist in this state. The University of Michigan had a great need for food specialists to make and distribute food to the public in the ‘residence halls’ – as was stated in the previous section, and also distributed to those not in the residence halls. Also found during excavation was equipment that was used by transportation specialists. The storage area for motor vehicles was not intended to be easily accessible to all of the population at this site. This area appears to be designated for specialists who worked with these vehicles. These vehicles, mostly buses, pick-up trucks and vans are kept corralled together in a fenced in area near the football stadium. These vehicles and

the specialists who drove them were probably used to transport people, maintain landscape and clean the streets. The third characteristic of a state is writing. The writing system of this state was officially English. There are signs from the government which label laws in the streets. These say things such as “STOP,” “One Way,” “No Parking,” to name a few examples. There are many written signs outside of public buildings that label the names of different public buildings. Due to the size and complexity of navigation within and between the buildings, a system of writing was essential for the public to be able to navigate through complex buildings in the state. They could do this by reading signs in buildings and on plaques next to rooms. The University of Michigan was built on the ideology of education, and thus promoted use and understanding of other languages. There are written signs, like those outside or inside of buildings that point to various language departments in the state. The “Department for Romance Languages” was very large, and smaller departments such as “Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies” had knowledge of different languages. Writing was also used as a way to glorify the state. Written language is used on monuments, located all over the site, to memorialize a certain person or group from a certain time in the past. This means that writing was the tool used to remember or pay tribute. Economic surplus and taxation, the fourth characteristic of a state, is also apparent in this site. Taxation enabled the state to promote itself through building elaborate facilities for public use such as computer labs, libraries and gardens. Economic surplus is apparent through the quantity of retail buildings and businesses throughout the state. Due to the plethora of places to spend money, there must have been a great deal of money circulating around and coming into the state. While the many elaborate buildings

represent economic surplus, the bell tower is one-of-a-kind building that stands tall over and is visible from a distance. The sound of the ringing bell, which could be heard even when the tower could not be seen, would have been used to attract attention and glorify the state. Though it is a simple tower, it is extravagant in how it stands and what it symbolized in terms of the state’s administrative power. The University of Michigan had great power in terms of economic surplus, taxation and otherwise. Monumental architecture is the fifth characteristic of a state. Monumental architecture is an important aspect of the structure of the state because it exemplifies the presence of the authority of the state. The President’s house and football stadium are two symbols of the state’s power. The president’s house is centrally located along a main street and surrounded by big meeting room buildings. The centrality and visibility of the president’s house must have been a constant reminder of the ruling power, and also served to provide the citizens with a sense of closeness to the administrative power of the state and comfort in its visibility. The football stadium, larger than one city block, is an enormously large and blue-colored piece of monumental architecture. It could hold over 100,000 people, making it one of the largest stadiums in the world during the 20th century. World-wide recognition of this structure would have made it very symbolic for the power and authority of the University of Michigan. Social stratification is the sixth characteristic of a state. Social stratification is the division of a population into groups with different social status. The University of Michigan was socially stratified by the proximity of housing to the central area of the University. Housing units in the University of Michigan are situated by geographic proximity to important resources of education, and the specialists that offered food and recreation. Just as the Tigris and Euphrates

rivers provided important resources of fertile soil and water to the people of Mesopotamia, the University of Michigan’s center held important resources that caused particular formations of housing units that allowed the greatest number of people to be close to the center. The geographic stratification of housing created somewhat of a social hierarchy that begins with the President’s house at the top, as it is large and located in the center. There are many housing options that are also centrally located, but not directly in the center. Housing units that the state provides or ‘residence halls’ are also, mostly, centrally located and very convenient for citizens since these buildings were administered directly by the state and were staffed with workers and food. However, the food packaging found here was meant to feed hundreds of people. Residents halls, while centrally located, were densely packed, small and lower quality housing. At the University of Michigan, housing is densely packed together and radiates out from the center. The population is stratified by how close they live to important facilities. Residence halls contain all these needs, while the apartment buildings and houses are less connected to important resources. The housing units at the edge of the southern edge of the center lack most in proximity to the important resources. The majority of housing units were built closer to resources. ‘Convenience stores’ are sporadically placed near or in more centrally located neighborhoods. Group membership based on residence is the seventh characteristic of a state. In some states this ideology might be based on kinship, but in this state it seems to have been based on belonging to the University of Michigan community rather than being part of family units. Interestingly, many members of the University of Michigan community share commonality in another aspect of group membership – age. The human remains found during excavation from the buildings collapses in the Disaster of 2012 were mostly young adults. Group membership in

this state was mostly based on community membership, but age may have played a secondary role in the feeling of belonging in the population of this group. In addition, the geographic layout of University of Michigan campuses and housing units divide the inhabitants by those who live in the dense housing units which radiate out from the center, where many young adult skeletons were found, and housing units that are much farther away. The people living on the edge of the community probably had little to no sense of group membership. The eighth characteristic of exact and predictive sciences is significant in the University of Michigan. The core ideology of the state revolves around education, knowledge and research. In the ‘Chemistry building’ multiple science laboratories and research equipment has been found. This equipment was made out of rare materials and must have been very important in this state for so much of it to have been found here. In addition, computers have been found in various buildings all over the state, including computer laboratories, housing units and centers of waste. This suggests that the sciences were important to the state and also that the state was very connected to other centers of exact and predictive sciences. Long distance trade is the ninth characteristic VG Childe says is part of being a state. Laboratory equipment was not made in this state, and this aspect in itself signifies the long distance trade relationships that the University of Michigan had. In addition, almost every building material in the University of Michigan was not produced locally, and had to come from some distance. These materials include plastic, brick and metals as well as other materials which probably were used but have not withstood time. Food packaging found in the housing units and waste centers show that much of their food was mass produced suggesting that the state was highly reliant on long distance trade.

A specific and unique example of long distance trade was found in The School of Music. In our excavation here, we have found a Gamelan ensemble which is rare and expensive musical instruments and native to Indonesia. This is a special item of long distance trade, which shows how powerful this state was in the world. Many other unique items of long distance trade like the Gamelan exist in this state as well. In various museums there are housed some ancient archeological artifacts of other cultures and societies. There were many departments within the state that have been found to be associated with international trade and research. Plentiful trade interactions with the rest of the world must have occurred in the University of Michigan. Representational art/ portraits, the tenth characteristic of a state according to Childe. There is not an exceptional amount of portraits found in the University of Michigan. Portraits serve to legitimize rulers and leaders. The importance of this leader is understood through the fact that craft specialization has been devoted to recreating their likeness. Small portraits can be found of important financial donors to the University of Michigan, and also of extremely significant leaders in the world such as Gandhi. These are memorial-type portraits, and have been preserved on metal plaques or sculpture. It is interesting that there is not a lot of portrait representational art in this state. The lack of portraits leads to the hypothesis that ideology that promotes the head of the state must have been conveyed in other ways. Many examples of representational art that promotes the administration through symbols instead of portraits has been found in abundance of varying sizes. A large example of this is the buses painted blue with the large letters “MICHIGAN” painted in yellow on the sides of the buses. This type of representational art has been found frequently in different forms of the same symbol.

Symbolic representations of the state is very simple. The two colors: ‘maize’ and blue carried a powerful message in the state. This type of representational art can be found everywhere in the state in public and private spaces. The material remains found at this site has told us a lot about this state and how it operated. It was a powerful state with world-wide recognition and far reaching connections to long distance trade. The majority of the population in the state must have been in agreeance with the administration because of the abundance of symbolic representation art. The state gained support through glorification and impressive monumental architecture. Also, specialists existed in all aspects of the state to provide well for the population. The University of Michigan excavation site certainly qualifies as a state according to VG Childe’s ten characteristics.